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Serial hospitality entrepreneur puts his best foot forward.
Born and raised in NC, Jonathan Seelbinder only expected to stay in our capital city for a couple of years when he moved here in 1999. But, 22 years later, he says, “here I am.”
Seelbinder cut his teeth in the hospitality business as a way to pay his way through NC State while studying industrial engineering. But, alas, he caught the hospitality bug and, in 2012, opened his first spot (The Architect Bar and Social House on East Hargett Street)—and “tried to never look back,” he says.
From there, Seelbinder bowed such popular hot spots as The Green Light speakeasy, Virgil’s Taqueria, sandwich shop Linus & Pepper’s (L&P) and Little City Brewing. This year, after COVID-19 shuttered L&P, he began working on a new venture, The Merchant, in the Virgil’s building on South Salisbury Street. His fave part? The savvy bar owner particularly enjoys designing and furnishing his properties. “As a guy who lived in a house with a bunch of other dudes and a hand-me-down couch when opening my first business,” he says, “I was quickly inspired by interior design, something that has grown into a passion.” In his free time, Seelbinder says he travels between Colorado and Raleigh whenever possible. And, in his ideal life, he’d fly airplanes and ski every day. Cheers to that.
I was born in Spruce Pine, grew up in Wilmington, finished high school in Mebane, then moved to Colorado, then moved to Raleigh—and have been here since 1999.
What you love most about Raleigh:
It’s a big town, little city. It’s always been easy to meet people. The food and beverage scene has become as good as any city, and it’s a great home base. You can fly almost anywhere and can get up and down the East Coast no problem.
Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey. It was a gift from my mom for Christmas.
Currently listening to:
Podcasts with Grant Cardone, GaryVee and Tim Ferriss. They talk about real estate, entrepreneurship and life stories. They’re inspirational, informative and give me a good perspective on the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial world.
Timeless and classic—with modern accents. I’ve really been into wearing Air Jordan’s lately though. My preference would be to be comfortable, but
it depends on the situation. It’s a fine line between stylish and comfortable.
I like to toe the line.
I don’t really follow a particular designer, but I believe in staying classic and evolving with the times without being too overly trendy.
Favorite clothing labels:
Everything from Chuck Taylor and Air Jordan all the way up to Hermès and everything in between.
Local go-to shop:
It was Art of Style—always a good eclectic blend of cool styles. It was local, and Kendra always tried to go out of her way to be involved in the process of purchasing clothes.
Last great lunch:
Virgil’s tacos. I happen to think they’re the best tacos in the state… yum yum, delicious!
Dark denim that fits well and is still comfortable
Favorite piece of jewelry:
I always enjoy a classic, understated nice watch.
I was thinking about the south of France the other day—never been, would like to go. It just looks absolutely beautiful, and I’d love to have a few carefree weeks after the last year or two I’ve had with work.
How you stay fit:
Stress… just kidding. I love to ride my mountain bike and snowboard. Diet is super-important; however, that’s always a lifestyle.
Coffee, coffee, coffee and then coffee, in that order
Everything doesn’t have to be expensive. I once managed a night club, and my favorite suit came from Target, and I threw it in the washing machine on a regular basis. But it’s always fun to have a couple of really nice pieces that you can accentuate with things that aren’t totally bougie.
Moment in your life that inspired your style:
My father and my (maternal) grandfather—even when I grew up with very little and not a lot of money—they made sure we knew it was always important to look our best, tuck our shirts in, comb our hair and stand up straight.
Currently Wearing: Jacket: Calvin Klein; scarf: Versace; T-shirt: Buck Mason; pants: Penguin; shoes: Air Jordan; belt and buckle: Hermès; boxer briefs: Diesel; socks: Ralph Lauren
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